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     CHAPCHAR KUT : The Mizo’s festival of joy

The white flag flies high in the air, fluttering in the envigorating wind under the cloudless sky of spring. The sound of the beatings of the gongs reverberated on the surrounding hills. The crowd, young and old, from all walks of lives, were pouring in in thousands. It is show time at the Assam Rifles parade ground right in the heart of Aizawl. The day is the second friday of March, 2005 on which the most joyful festival of the Mizos - Chapchar Kut - is celebrated every year. Standing in the ground were hundreds of Mizo damsels and energetic young-men dressed in their colourful attires all poised to perform the colourful Cheraw dance, thus heralding the start of the festival for the day.

Chapchar Kut literally means - a festival held during the period when the bamboos and trees that have been cut down are being awaited to dry to be burnt for jhumming. During this brief layoff period of jhumming, the Mizo ancestors could have all the time for themselves. They spend their leisure hunting games, fishing, et al. The Chapchar Kut festival evolved sometime between 1450 -1600 A.D. when the Mizo forefathers inhabit Lentlang. In the olden days, the festival could last for days and in the run up to the grand finale, there are well laid down steps to be followed. Everyone in the village have a role to play; of course, the youths were most involved in every stage of the preparation and in the festival itself. Designed to be a festival of joy, all disputes and differences that may be there in the community should be settled, even altercation between married couples was a taboo during the celebration of the festival. Abundant supply of meat must be there and home brewed liqour must be over-flowing to keep their spirit high. They danced away all all their cares and made merry all night long. That sums up how the Mizos celebrate Chapchar Kut in the olden days when they were heathens.

The modern version of Chapchar Kut have done away with liqour, which was once a part and parcel of the festival. Even so, the present generation is not in any way lacking in keeping the spirit of the festival fever pitch high. In fact, Mizoram has been a dry state for years; the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest NGO in the state, is combating drug and alcohol on a war footing starting this year and they are also very much a major player in organising Chapchar Kut. But who says one needs a bottle of rum to be merry ! The younger generation of the Mizos have invented for themselves enthralling music..music...and more music to drowned themselves in. This was evident, as it always is wherever a dozen or so Mizo youths congregate, in the Chapchar Kut festival. The crowd went berserk when the choicest  of the Mizo pop divas performed Mizo songs. Believe me, right from toddlers to policemen, who were supposed to keep watch, were practically dancing.

The chief minister Zoramthanga, in his very brief inaugural speech, says : “ Chapchar Kut has come to be a very important medium through which we could express to the world outside that the Mizos all over the world remain united and that it shall remain so. No matter where in the world we live or to which ethnic tribes of the Mizos we belong to, we should never allow economic, cultural and religious differences do us apart ”. True, Chapchar Kut is a symbol that shall remain a living prove that blood is indeeds thicker than water. Mizo delegates from Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura came to witness the festival this year and the people warmly welcome them.

When it comes to the time for Chai, the last and the most hilarious dance, all the people joined in. Standing in circles and swaying from side to side to the slow moving tune of Mizo songs of yesteryears, it was free for all. A few of the western tourists and other domestic tourists ventured out to join the party. It was apparent that there was no cultural, religious or nationality barrier amongst that waves of sea of people dancing. But then, where else in India, if not in the world, would you chance upon such likeable and hospitable people, other than in Mizoram. Justifiably, the most peaceful state in the country. Be there on the second friday of March next year to witness Chapchar Kut.

see picture of Chapchar Kut 2005


Ministry of Communication & Information Technology
National Informatics Centre, Mizoram State Centre
Old Secretariat Building-2 , Aizawl - 796001